Pose of the Day: Cobra
I really didn’t anticipate feeling this miserable at the end of my challenge. After taking those days off last week, I was determined to do at least something yoga-ish. Friday I made my post while resting my legs up against the wall, otherwise known as Legs Up the Wall pose. It worked, I got my time in. Saturday I felt like death after over-exerting myself for a family day out, so I did ten minutes of Savasana before bed. It was basically like falling asleep on the floor or couch and then moving into the bed. Sunday I was feeling really good; a new episode of The Walking Dead was coming, I had pizza rolls at the ready, all in all it was a great day. I did about twenty minutes because all the stretching felt so good.
And then I woke up yesterday.
Whether from stretching a bit too far during my Sunday workout or from sleeping on the couch in the we hours of Monday morning when my husband’s snoring drove me awake and away, I got it. Bad. I couldn’t move my head to the left. I mean, I could, but not without incredible pain. No amount of heating pad, massage, or muscle relaxer was working. I had to skip my workout. I still hurt a bunch. I’m really upset at this point because I haven’t been feeling well for almost a week, but it’s not a cold or the flu, because it’s milder, but still enough to make me not want to move. This is one of my fibro flares and it is so incredibly frustrating! I was so close to doing exactly what I had set out to do, following all the rules I set for myself, and my body is now saying, “Screw that.”
It’s not just the physical stuff. I finished three books last week and I should have, by now, made an entry on Jillie’s Bookshelf for each and I just can’t seem to get my thoughts together. This is one of those things that a lot of people don’t get about chronic illnesses: your best intentions are consistently compromised until you learn that the only way you’re going to accomplish your goals is to remember that they’re there when you’re ready. You have to know when and if it’s okay to set them aside in order for you to simply get yourself back to yourself. You have to wait. You have to be patient with yourself, which is the hardest thing ever.
I am most likely going to extend my challenge a few days. Maybe I just won’t count yesterday and today, or maybe I’ll just do an extra week. I definitely have to drink more water. I noticed last week that I wasn’t consuming as much. Part of that was that I didn’t feel good, but the other part was just plain laziness. I have my trusty water bottle back at my side, now. Hopefully, I feel more like myself, my inner self, sooner rather than later.
Pose of the Day: Sitting Eagle
The PotD comes from the DoYou Yoga video for Day 23, a routine for easing stress in the neck and upper back. I always need this. The arms for this pose are twisted in the same way as full Eagle, but you either raise them as usual or lower your clasped hands away from you. I am so in love with this pose! It’s much easier than standing because you don’t have to focus on balance. Your upper arms, shoulders, shoulder blades. all of it gets nice and stretched. The whole workout was fantastic. If you’re looking for an easy-to-follow yoga challenge that’s not too high impact (except for the dastardly amount of Downward Dog), I highly recommend visiting the DYY website and signing up. It’s free. (And no, I’m not getting paid to say that. I also recommend getting videos from the library, since those are also free.)
I am a bit sore today–I think I over-extended a muscle–but I’ve noticed that I haven’t been in as much pain in the mornings as I used to. I’m still riddled with fibromyalgia, mind you, I haven’t gotten rid of it. However, my symptoms/flares have been occasionally eased by some of these poses I’ve been featuring. I also wonder if I’m having less painful episodes because of the yoga. Who knows?
The main thing is that I’m finding that I feel much healthier overall. Remember the McDonald’s thing last week? Well, it doesn’t just apply to McD’s, I can’t eat Hardee’s either. Well, I an,but the afterwards wasn’t pleasant at all. But I look forward to my high-protein breakfast everyday. I assume it’s high-protein, anyway; baby bella mushrooms, egg, bacon (shut up, it’s meat, it has protein), plus the greek yogurt in my smoothie. I’m actually starting to crave it at night, too. It’s funny how making one change, like a simple workout routine, makes you so much more aware of what you’re doing to yourself. It’s the butterfly effect, but you’re the one who gets to fly and feel beautiful.
Pose of the Day: Warrior II
I knew I couldn’t take the weekend off since I took my days off in the middle of the week last week. I’m proud to say that my two weekend days were actually my best days. At least 15-20 minutes both days! Saturday I took a nice hot shower, made myself comfortable, and listened to some Diana Krall (Glad Rag Doll) while I posed away. It was so relaxing. I mean, it actually helped me to fall asleep at a decent hour. Now, if only my sick hubby wouldn’t wake me up coming to bed and/or with his snoring. There was something about the smooth music-I hate new age, so it’s hard to find things that relax me like yoga is supposed to–and the great way I felt post-bathe that actually made me feel encouraged to meditate. I didn’t do it very long, maybe a minute. But I did do that thing where you cross your legs and connect your middle finger and thumb. I didn’t om out loud, but I was definitely feeling it as far as calm went.
Yesterday, Sunday, I set myself up with some Bigelow Sweet Dreams tea in a cute lil teapot I rarely use. It made my yoga feel more special. At my MFA residency, there was a certain core group that would meet at seven a.m. every morning to do yoga either on the back lawn of the hotel or in one of the conference rooms. I know that they had some great bonding moments and a tea tradition that was very special to them (the teapot gets handed down at graduation now to another member of the group). I always regretted not being a part of that group. I was invited, but I am a total night owl and was never conscious at such an hour (not in such a way that I would let other people see me). So, my experience with my own teapot felt quite precious. I even did five minutes of Savasana on the floor which I’ve said before drives me nuts. But I felt motivated to try it. It was nice, having James Taylor sing to me about love as I was lying there, breathing.
As far as my body goes, I’m not even weighing myself anymore. My sizes are all over the map depending on the clothing manufacturer and I’m pretty sure the scale I bought is on drugs anyway. The only thing that really matters is how I feel and that I like the way I look in my clothes. I’m not entirely there yet, but I’m on my way, and I’m definitely feeling much better about myself as a whole. WIN!
Pose of the Day: Legs-Up-the-Wall
I waited until nighttime to do my yoga yesterday. I was sort of excited to do DoYou Yoga’s 6 Poses for Sleep. Other than Corpse Pose, which just feels weird to me, I did all of them. (Sorry, but I can’t just lay there on the floor, it’s incredibly uncomfortable for me and I get jittery.) I don’t know if it helped me fall asleep any faster, but my body felt better and more physically relaxed when I was done.
I spent about five minutes on Legs-Up-the-Wall. It’s supposed to be good for fibromyalgia as well, something about releasing the blood and pressure from the muscles in your legs and hips. I used a pillow for support under my hips and lower back and I must say it felt pretty good. I noticed I was holding tension in my knees trying to keep them straight against the wall, but once I noticed it, I let go and it went pretty well. I also spent some quality time in Bridge Pose. I can do over a minute now. My sciatic muscles sometimes have an opinion about that, but they were quite amenable to the idea last night. This challenge isn’t doing much in the way of weight loss or toning, but it’s damn sure increasing my physical stamina as far as holding poses goes.
I’m more conscious, as I’ve said, about the foods I’m eating. Not that I’m really trying to eat different or specific foods, but I’m preferring things I cook to food I buy out. After the McDonald’s debacle yesterday, as well as a rare lunch out with my husband, I became hyper-aware of how much less grease I use in my cooking, and god knows what else these places are using, than these restaurants whose food often comes out gleaming with some sort of oil.
Omg, I’m becoming a yoga-food hippie. I need pizza rolls, STAT!!!
Pose of the Day: Cat-Cow
Yeah, I took off Day 16. No real excuse, I just never got around to it. BUt I take it as one of my two days off every week and I don’t feel guilty. Really, this post is about Day 15 and I did pretty good that day. I haven’t been sleeping well at all. Thank god for yoga. I’m able to take a nap afterwards if I do it in the morning or in the early evening. I think it relaxes me more through the breathing and soothes my muscles enough that they’re not so seized up when I’m laying down.
My favorite pose for today is Cat-Cow. This is always kind of near the top of the list for PotD. Since my back and shoulders are such an issue for me, this pose is perfect. An arch of the back with your head facing downwards and then reversing the arch into a sway while looking up. It stretches it all for me. I’ve also noticed that Downward Dog is becoming more bearable. That’s amazing. I even held a Plank for ten seconds!…ish. I’m very proud of me.
I noticed today that the eating changes I’ve been making, albeit unconsciously, have really affected me. I’ve been making my breakfasts at home lately to both save money and not rely on McDonald’s McCalories. I’ve been preparing my own breakfast sandwiches and adding mushrooms and caramelized onions. It takes about as long as it did to drive to McD’s anyway. So, this morning I decided I deserved some fat-laden yumminess. Big mistake. It doesn’t even taste the same. I was hardcore into them too. You can have my McDouble when you pry it from my cold, dead, heart-attacked hands, but for pre-yoga breakfast, I’m sticking with my homemade McMuffins and fresh smoothies. I feel so much more ready to tackle a workout when I know I’ve treated my body right with my first meal of the day.
Pose of the Day: Pranayama
Okay, the PotD isn’t really a pose; it’s yoga breathing. Deep, in through the nose, calm, measured breathing. Realizing Friday night that I wouldn’t get around to my regularly scheduled programming, I decided to take advantage of the hot tub at the indoor waterpark where my family was enjoying themselves the night before a relative got married. (No yoga on Saturday, but I got quite the workout on the dance floor!) I spent a good 15 minutes trying to relax my body as much as possible in the lovely bubbles. The issue with pools and hot tubs is that your body tries to rise the more you relax. I found a god position that helped me stay under while taking up as little room as possible in this public arena. It felt so good. I was so relaxed. Focusing on my breathing still worked my core muscles and my arms felt heavy as I lifted them out of the water when I decided to get out and join my son and hubby in the lazy river.
I need to stop taking the weekend off. Yes, I was active on Saturday and we had a situation yesterday that required a trip to urgent care. Still, I need to stop finding excuses as to why I’m going to “do it later” or why I’m too sore/tired/etc. I’m not losing weight, may have gained some actually, and that’s another reason why I can’t tell what exactly yoga is doing for me at this point. I may have gained some muscle. My stomach feels harder… underneath the spare tire. I was hoping that after a good six weeks of water, yoga, and general betterness, I would notice at least a minor change; a better fitting shirt, a pair of pants loosening in the hips. Alas, no such luck yet.
My saving grace at this point is the fact that I feel good. Honestly, the only reason I want to lose some weight is so that I can wear some of the adorable clothes I bought around summer/fall. If I had bought them in bigger sizes, I don’t think I would care as much. I just want to be smooth around the edges, have things look the way they were intended to, no bulges or rolls, etc. I’m glad that the improvements I am experiencing are improving my mental well-being. I haven’t really been tempted to go down the depression rabbit hole since I started these challenges. I’m writing more, making lists to keep myself on task, being a more productive member of society. I’d rather have these things be my normal than a smaller waist, actually. It’s no use looking good if you can’t get out of bed, anyway.
Pose of the day: Triangle Pose
I was so out of sorts yesterday! One nap just wasn’t enough for me, I felt like I could barely function for most of the day. Later in the day, fortified by an extra cup of coffee and some wine, I did some standing-up yoga: Mountain, Chair, Warriors, etc. I met my minimum at least, probably went about 15 minutes. If nothing else, this definitely demonstrates that you don’t need a mat to do yoga, fancy clothes, or even a large space. I did it in my living room, in my jeans and sweatshirt, watching reruns of Big Bang Theory. It also shows that no matter “off” you feel for a day, there’s always something you can do for yourself to make your body feel even a modicum of relief.
Triangle is the PotD because it’s always been one my favorites, since I first tried yoga about 10 years ago. It’s a bit of a challenge to balance, but I love the elongated feeling I get in my torso and the stretch in my arms. This is one of those poses that really forces me to concentrate on my breathing and picking a focal point to maintain my balance, usually because my eyes are facing the ceiling instead of straight ahead, like many other poses.
The nice part of this challenge so far is that, even though I’m still pain, I still feel good. I’m not losing weight, as far as I know but I’m not really watching it, since building muscle can replace losing fat anyway. I’m not even big, I just want the extra inches to be smooth instead of rolly. Still, even when I’m feeling like crap, cuddling up with my heating pad, drinking water and focusing on doing something good for my body has me in better moods lately. I’ve even been eating better. I’m not dieting (pizza rolls are definitely not any diet lists), but I’ve been cooking at home more and making really delicious choices. I’ve been inspired to go on Pinterest and read cookbooks, and I’ve been making some pretty amazing things, like last night’s Rosemary-Garlic Steak with a red wine reduction. I didn’t even know I could do that! I guess the best parts of challenges are the changes you didn’t expect because it makes them so much more surprising and satisfying.
Pose of the day: Baby Pose
For Day 10, I did the Day 6 DoYou workout, a program for the lower back. I’m skipping over some of the challenge workouts in my email and cherry-picking for the things I actually need. I always need the lower back and anything for my shoulders, but I can definitely skip the core strengthening stuff because, while I’m in it for the yoga, I’m in it for specific benefits of yoga. Maybe once I figure out a way to maintain the pain areas, I’ll move on to focusing on other parts of my body.
I really liked this particular workout, especially Baby Pose. It elongated my back, stretched my leg muscles and still worked my core and arms, without feeling evil. It was a bit difficult to figure out to grab my feet and bend my knees in a comfortable way, but once I did, it felt very good. It was also nice to have a workout that wasn’t so Downward Dog focused, though I am doing much better with it. I found old copies of a yoga magazine at the library book sale. One has an article on how to strengthen your wrists and elbows, so I’m hoping that will make certain poses like DD, Bridge, and Plank easier on me. Sure they’ll still suck for the most part, but they should at least not wreck my itty-bitty joints.
Pose of the day: Thread the Needle
I’m not kidding, I am in love with this pose. I vaguely remember doing it in classes. I wish I had remembered it sooner because it is really great for stretching my shoulder blades, hips, and quads at the same time. I’ve heard some people complain about it, saying it’s too hard or too stretch-y, but it’s quickly becoming a new favorite. Here’s the thing: I had a physical therapist last year (before insurance said, ya know, no more) who said part of my soreness problem is that my ligaments were so loose it was as if they were struggling to hold me together, i.e. I am too flexible in certain parts of body. Apparently, this is a thing. So, this may be why I find some poses, like Downward Dog, evil, while others are super easy for me. Basically, I prefer the stretchy poses because they’re easier versus the strength ones. (Plank can pretty much kiss my ass). It is nice to discover, however, those times when you realize you held a difficult pose longer than the last time or the time before because you have somehow built up strength without realizing it. It gives you quite a sense of accomplish, especially when it’s one of those poses you’d be happy to abandon forever.
As for yoga in general, I’ve noticed my cat is not so much interested in me doing yoga, but that my yoga mat is secretly cat crack. I pulled it out and laid it down. While preparing my video, she just laid down on it and started rolling. She also finds poses where my head is down on the mat, the perfect opportunity to try to play with/eat my hair. Here I was, thinking, “At least my cat isn’t as bad as the ones in that video.” I was wrong. She is exactly like the cats in the video. I’m going to leave you with said video so you can understand my plight… though, at least I have a friend to do yoga with me.
Pose of the day: Standing Forward Bend
To be honest, I was more interested in finishing Wide Sargasso Sea for my Read Harder challenge than I was in yoga yesterday. (Stay tuned for my post about this wonderful book later today on Jillie’s Bookshelf!) I did my stretches intermittently, probably getting my minimum ten minutes, but I never pulled out the actual mat. I really wanted to see what happened with my body and muscles when I did my yoga at the end of the day/before bed versus the morning. The problem, I have realized is that by the time the evening rolls around I am more interested in reading or watching tv and no longer have motivation to continue accomplishing tasks. So, I’m back to mornings.
What I have noticed is that I need to remain hydrated to be any sort of functional, yoga’ed or not. I barely drank any water yesterday and felt terrible by 3pm. Surprise, surprise as soon as I made some tea and drank a glass of water, I felt much better. I have to admit, though, that doing this challenge is very hard for me right now, what with my body not being at its best. (let’s face it though, even it’s best is pretty crappy on average.) I keep hoping I’ll feel a change like I did with my water challenge. So far, nothing. Not even reliable relief. Luckily, I’ve been able to find some poses that make me feel better. But I really didn’t start this challenge for minor maintenance; I really want to be a healthier person, or at least a more comfortable one.
Obviously, I’m going to keep it up, though. I can’t give up just because the gates of Heaven don’t open to reveal a choir of angels singing and cheering me on. The most change you can ever hope for is directly proportional to the amount of steadfastness you demonstrate, no matter the task at hand.